Rapid Scoping Review of Community Champions Approaches

Rapid Scoping Review of Community Champions Approaches

Rapid Scoping Review of Community Champions Approaches


PHE’s Healthy Communities Team have today launched their rapid scoping review of community champions approaches, which can be found here. Please direct any queries to

What’s this about?

Public Health England (PHE) review of existing evidence on community champion approaches and discussion of implications, including for pandemic response and recovery.


Headline info

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important communities are to public health and the broader response. Concern over the inequalities exposed through the pandemic has led to renewed interest in recruiting community champions to engage and support at risk groups. Community champions or health champions are active community members who draw on their local knowledge, skills and life experience to promote health and wellbeing where they live or work. Many local areas have developed community champion programmes to support their local COVID-19 response.


This rapid scoping review pulls together existing research on community champions and considers the potential for community champion approaches to be used to support the pandemic response and recovery. It summarises the best available evidence from previous UK champion programmes focused on health improvement and from international studies of champion-type roles in communicable disease control.


Overall, findings show that champion approaches are highly relevant to reducing health inequalities as champions are able to reach and connect with different communities. Community champion approaches can be applied flexibly to meet local needs and assets, and there are range of different models that can be used. The review also highlights evidence on what’s needed for successful implementation. Examples from practice are used to illustrate and strengthen these findings wherever possible.


The review will be a resource for those responsible for commissioning and delivering community champions programmes. A key message is that champions can be key connectors in communities, but these roles do not operate in isolation and need to be embedded in effective community engagement strategies.


This review was undertaken as part of PHE’s work to support the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Community Champions (MHCLG) scheme, which started in January 2021, with funding of over £23 million going to 60 councils and voluntary groups across England to develop champions programmes, with a focus on supporting those most at risk. The review was carried out by a team from Leeds Beckett University working with the Healthy Communities Team, Health Improvement Directorate, PHE.




Original publication date: 26/08/21
Local authority:
Category: Communication and engagement